Unexpected machine and equipment failures are dangerous for workers and cause companies hundreds and thousands of dollars. Apart from the money spent on repairing and replacing these machines, the equipment and bearing failure can significantly reduce a plant's operating efficiency while increasing its downtime.

Therefore, it is essential to make sure all equipment in a plant is working correctly. All the principal causes of machine failure are at bay. The major causes of machine and equipment failure include insufficient/improper lubrication, contamination, overload, and wrong handling and installation of the bearings and other parts.

In this post, we are going to discuss how improper lubrication can cause equipment failure and damage.

Machine Lubrication

Lubrication is the process of using a lubricant (machine oil or grease) to decrease friction and wear and tear between two parts of equipment that are always in contact with each other.

Lubrication is an integral part of machine maintenance that contributes to its proper functioning. Yet, it also increases the service life of the machinery. However, improper lubrication can damage the equipment and is considered one of the three major causes of equipment failures. Hence, though it is crucial to lubricate your machinery, it is essential to do it properly.

Equipment Wear Due To Improper Lubrication

Improper lubrication can cause equipment to wear as a result of friction between rubbing surfaces. The type of ‘wearing’ depends on the surfaces in contact and lubricating errors during the maintenance of machines. For instance, abrasive wear occurs when a rough surface slides across a soft/plain one. Whereas adhesive wear ensues localized bonding between two solid surfaces.

Lubrication is used to minimize this wear by acting as a barrier that reduces friction between the sliding surfaces. Therefore, if this lubrication is performed incorrectly, it cannot serve its purpose as a barrier. This not only increases in the process of wearing but sometimes can also result in undesirable reactions leading to equipment damage and failure.

Effects Of Improper Lubrication

Equipment Damage

Lubricants carrying dirt or certain impurities tend to accumulate inside bearings and machine components, affecting its functioning and speed. Hence, lubricants should be checked for any unwanted impurity that might damage the equipment.

Material Damage

Specific lubricants tend to react with the metals or machine material causing adhesive wearing. For example, certain lubricant additives (Extreme pressures) react with yellow metals like brass. These pose threats to the machinery as chemical changes in the equipment material occur. Which later require intensive labor and money to repair.

Therefore, when selecting a lubricant for your machine, consider its compatibility with your machine's equipment and material.


Leakage is a common problem that arises when two non-compatible lubricants are mixed. Usually, a mineral-based lubricant is mixed with a synthetic base, which results in the formation of additives that attack metal surfaces. Chemical reaction (oxidation/reduction or hydrolysis) follows, eventually causing adhesive wear between the metal surfaces in proximity. This likely occurs at seal openings, where the thin metal seal shrinks due to the wearing. Hence, allowing oil or lubricant to leak-out.

Equipment Failure

Improper lubrication ultimately causes machine damage or complete failure, which requires professional assistance or replacement of parts. Hence, an added cost of maintenance.

Causes Of Improper Lubrication

There are several causes of improper lubrication; a few of the most common ones include following incorrect procedures while applying lubricants. Also, sometimes lubricant application requires technical assistance from a professional. When this is avoided, and the process is performed manually, it can lead to machine damage.

Furthermore, over greasing or inadequate amounts of lubricant result in equipment wear. Lastly, improper handling and storage of lubricants make them ineffective in the long run.

Micro-Lube has a complete range of high-grade industrial lubricants designed to meet all the requirements of its clients. Our expert team can help you apply correct lubricants for your machines while making significant cost savings and improving your equipment's reliability and efficiency. To learn more about our products and to get a free quote, click here.